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Published: 7/11/2009

Stores eager for road work's end U.S. 20 project almost over

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After more than two years of construction, the $20.5 million widening of U.S. 20 near Woodville is nearing completion.

The four-lane project between State Rt. 420 and western Woodville will accommodate increased truck traffic from the Fremont area bound for I-280 and other major routes near Toledo.

A wider road will give both truck drivers and other motorists space to maneuver, eliminating safety problems, Theresa Pollick, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said.

The project began in May, 2007, and is expected to be complete in November.

Construction, meanwhile, has hampered access at least part of the time to a number of Woodville businesses, including Gail's Pop and Stop, Granny's Kitchen, Beck's Pizza, McDonald's, and TJ's Auto Sales.

So far, Gail's Pop and Stop has lost about $40,000 in sales, said Bruce Sample, owner of the gas station, convenience store, and drive through.

"I am so angry with ODOT, I could spit fire," Mr. Sample said.

Losses at Gail's Pop and Stop were particularly bad for about a month last summer, Mr. Sample said. Barriers continue to be in front of the business because previous work did not extend as far west as expected, he said.

Judy Dawson, owner of Granny's Kitchen restaurant, said because of the recession, it is hard for her to estimate how much revenue she has lost because of the project. Barriers have made it difficult for customers to figure out how to get into the parking lot, she said. "At night, it gets kind of confusing," she said.

The project has been hard on businesses because it has taken so long, ODOT's Ms. Pollick said. Last year, access was limited to right in, right out to all businesses within Woodville after village officials had requested it to expedite the project, she said.

"The good news is we're going to be wrapping up soon," Ms. Pollick said.

The project followed a $17.4 million freewaystyle interchange that replaced the intersection of Routes 20, 23, and 420. That was finished a couple of years ago.

Widening U.S. 20 through the area is a good idea, but the project's execution has been a costly burden, Mr. Sample said. Business should at least return to normal once the project is completed and may improve, he said. "I would hope - knock on wood - I would expect it might help it somewhat." he said.



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